CatEye HL-EL700RC Triple Shot - modding the lamp worth for more than 300$ :)
Well known shape, well known logo... 3 years ago the brightest bike led lamp on the market - three 3W Luxeon III leds inside. Advertised as the first led lamp comparable with 20 halogen lamp.
Some marketing sweetener...
Some time ago CatEye showed us how they were measuring their candles... ;-).
But I still don’t know what the hell means total candle power 20 000. As you can see in the picture the light intensity measure is made in the central spot. There is no way to convert the data to any other unit as lumen or lux.
The only hope is in the technical specification and datasheet: Luxeon III @ 700mA should give 60 to 80 lumens of light - average 70 – so total from 3 leds gives 210 lumens. Now who tells where are 300 or even 400 lumens that you can get from high quality 20W halogen lamp ?? As usual they are selling us promises and numbers...
I have to admit that CatEye lamp looks solid – head weights only 186 grams. In my opinion they overdesigned the heatsink size - it can be cut down at least 86g without any problem.
After unscrewing 4 hex bolts – you can get to the lamp guts :)
A seal, plastic diffuser, 3 collimator lens and 3 Luxeon III emitters:
There are a lot of screws there - after unscrewing them and pushing the power cable, you can push out the whole module from the case.
Emitters are glued to the metal plate that transfers the heat from the central emitter that is over the hole in the body. After removing emitters from the metal plate, the lamp content looks as follow :
Hidden into neoprene cover, tided with two electrical straps and 2 layers of heatshrinking foil, there are 10 14500 NiMH cells (so called AA) battery pack - with nominal capacity 2700mAh. It is a bit heavy – real weight is even a few grams lower than claimed by the manufacturer “only” 473g.
Tied to the battery pack there is a small plastic case:
Judging from the markings it looks like a driver
After unsrewing there is nothing special inside – PCB board, 4 wires and a seal, everything is hidden on the other side :-D.
Under a white silicone there is an adjustable resistor - so nothing was hidden from a potential user or from competition. Based on the markings they use Supertex HV9910 chip or its equivalent from other manufacturer. It is simply buck driver that will lower voltage and set up current for the leds.
Measurement’s for 3 Luxeon leds :
V-in I-In P-In V-led I-led P-led Eff.
13,11 578mA 7,57W 10,61V 661mA 7,01 92,55%
I must admit that I’m impressed. It is rare to find in the stock lamp such high efficient driver. After replacing the leds to SSC, the driver lower the voltage output to set up the current and keeps all work parameters unchanged:
V-in I-In P-In V-led I-led P-led Eff.
13,13 545mA 7,15W 9,73V 672mA 6,53 91,37%
In case of lower Vf of the SSC leds there is 1/2 W drop in the energy usage :).
How it lights ?
When you know the current and the led type, you can approximate light output for the lamp. The light output for the Triple Shot will be less than 200 lumens - it is not much these days, only a slightly more than one Cree XR-E Q4 led powered @700mA that will give about 170 lumens. You can see that in the photo below Triple Shot vs. Q4@700mA with CRS-D optics.
TripleShot vs. Cree XR-E Q4 @700mA (Ledil CRS-D).
After replacing emitters to U-bin SSC P4 there is a considerable improvement :-D.
TripleShot 3*Luxeon III vs TripleShot modded 3*SSC P4 bin U
Modded lamp should give about 450 lumens of light, that after considering light looses on the optics, gives about 400 lumens of usable light - the same amount as top notch 20W halogen lamp but taking only 7W of power.
Runtime on a battery pack is consistent with specification - about 3.5 hours. In case of using NiMH cells you can expect that in winter condition it may be much shorter - about 2 hours.
If you can buy it for 140-160$ and replace the emitters for another 30$ there is no comparable lamp on the market for this price. Of course you can build some DIY light for the same price and you may get even more light from it, but still the Triple Shot will looks much better ;-).